Carlos Zambrano was certainly prescient with his famous "We stinks" line.
Three years later, the Cubs still "stinks." Worse than ever, in fact.
But, guess who hasn't stunk so far?
Unlike cake at the Field Museum, no one wants to toss his April stats in the dumpster.
Last season, both players struggled, to varying degrees, during the Cubs' woeful 96-loss season. Castro was one of the worst regulars in baseball, while Rizzo's hitting results were much too inconsistent.
I went through March/April stats for both players over the past two seasons to check out the differences. Both are doing much better this season, to no surprise.
Through 26 games this season, Rizzo's slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) is .283/.407/.457. He has 26 hits (four homers, two doubles and one triple) with 18 walks and 18 strikeouts.
Through 26 games last season, Rizzo hit .224/.315/.531. He had 22 hits (eight homers, six doubles) with 11 walks and 27 strikeouts.
What to make of this comparison? Perhaps he's not trying to hit everything out of the park. Rizzo's power stats were decent for a guy in his first full season in the majors, but inconsistent. I mean, 35 percent of his homers came in the first month of the season, where he was truly boom or bust.
Last season, his BABIP (batting average, balls in play) was a meager .258. Some would say he was unlucky, but as former manager Dale Sveum told me last summer, that number was low because Rizzo wasn't squaring up enough, and he wasn't taking advantage of hittable pitches. In the end, he was one of the worst fastball hitters in the majors. Sveum had a more colorful term for the pitches Rizzo wasn't striking, but this is a family blog.
Rizzo's BABIP through one month is .310, and he has 11 more singles than he did at this point in 2013.
Now, how about Castro, who is trusting himself at the plate after organizational malfeasance and his own murky judgment sabotaged a season.
Through 26 games this season, Castro's slash line is .308/.339/.471. He has 32 hits (four homers and five doubles) with five walks and 13 strikeouts.
He wasn't awful last spring. In his first 26 games, he hit .277/.296/.420. Castro had 31 hits (five doubles, three homers) with three walks and 19 strikeouts. His season bottomed out later, but Castro looks more confident and comfortable all around. I think he's back to All-Star form, but it's early.
The good news for the Cubs is that both players' approaches are sound. That's a good foundation to begin another lost season for the club.
One worry the team had last season was that too much pressure was on both players, given the limitations of the lineup. The limitations haven't improved that much, but the Cubs have to hope these starts augur for better seasons.
The Cubs won't win much this season, as "The Plan" for another top draft pick continues unabated, but this bodes well for that future we keep hearing about.